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New York City mayoral election, 1917

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

New York City mayoral election, 1917

← 1913 November 6, 1917 1921 →

 
Hylan.gif
John Purroy Mitchel.jpg
Candidate John F. Hylan John P. Mitchel
Party Democratic Independent
Popular vote 314,010 155,497
Percentage 46.78% 23.16%

 
Morris Hillquit NYWTS.jpg
Candidate Morris Hillquit William M. Bennett
Party Socialist Republican
Popular vote 145,332 56,438
Percentage 21.65% 8.4%

NYC Mayoral Election 1917 Results by Borough.svg
Results by Borough
  Hylan—50–60%
  Hylan—<50%

Mayor before election

John P. Mitchel
Independent

Elected Mayor

John F. Hylan
Democratic

The 1917 Election for Mayor of the City of New York replaced sitting Mayor John P. Mitchel, a reform Democrat running on the Fusion Party ticket, with John F. Hylan, the regular Democrat supported by Tammany Hall and William Randolph Hearst.

The election was notable not only for the first partisan primary elections for City offices, but for the contentious debate over supporting U.S. entry into World War One, vigorously supported by Mitchel and opposed by the Socialist candidate, Morris Hillquit. Mitchel and Hillquit each won about a fifth of the total vote, while Hylan won office with less than half the vote.

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Transcription

>> David Ferriero: Good afternoon. I'm David Ferriero. I'm the Archivist of the United States. It's a pleasure to welcome you this afternoon to the McGowan Theater here at the National Archives. Welcome to our friends who are joining us on YouTube and a special welcome to our C-SPAN audience. A century ago the First World War was raging in Europe but the United States was not yet involved and there was strong sentiment throughout the land for us not to get involved. Eventually we did in April 1917 and with gusto. And this afternoon we'll learn how American doughboys commanded by the legendary General John J. Pershing brought the war to an end. But before we get to today's program, I'd like to tell you about a couple of programs coming up here in the William G. McGowan Theater. This Thursday, March 24, 7:30, we'll present the 9th Annual McGowan Forum on Women in Leadership. This year's topic is from the computer age, digital age, and will be presented in partnership with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Megan Smith, the United States Chief Technology Officer, will moderate a panel of experts. And this Friday, March 25, at noon, we'll observe the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service. We will present a selection of short films from the National Archives' motion pictures holdings that give a glimpse of what several of the parks were like during the 1930's. "From the Vaults: The National Park Service on Film" is presented in partnership with the 2016 Environmental Film Festival here in Washington. If you want to learn more about these and all of our programs and exhibits, consult our monthly Calendar of Events. There are copies in the lobby as well as signup sheets where you can receive by regular mail or e-mail. And you will also find brochures about other National Archives programs and activities. Our guest speaker this afternoon, who just happens to be celebrating his birthday today, is Mitchell Yockelson, Investigative Archivist with the National Archives and is involved in our efforts to ensure that our records are safe and should some go missing to help find them and bring any thief or thieves to justice. He's a former professor of military history at the United States Naval Academy and currently teaches at Norwich University. For his work he has received the Army Historical Foundation's Distinguished Writing Award. Mitch is also one of America's experts on the First World War and holds a Doctorate from the Royal Military College of Science at Cranfield University in the United Kingdom. Today he will discuss and later answer your questions about his new book, "Forty-Seven Days: How Pershing's Warriors Came of Age to Defeat the German Army in World War I." Douglas Waller, "The New York Times," bestselling author notes that Mitch has become a pre-eminent World War I historian, commenting on the book, Waller, has written with an absorbing narrative, fast pacing and gritty detail; his 47 days brings to life that war's final and bloody Meuse-Argonne offensive when General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing and more than one million American and French soldiers broke the back of the mighty German Army. Please welcome Mitch Yockelson. >> [Applause] >> Mitchell Yockelson: Good afternoon, everybody. It's a real pleasure to be here. I'm excited to have a nice crowd to come out and hear a talk on a subject that doesn't get a lot of attention in the United States, and that's the United States' effort in the First World War. As Mr. Ferriero mentioned, we got into the war in April 1917 as a partner to the allies and slowly built our forces until it turned into the climactic Battle of Meuse-Argonne which is the subject of my book and my talk today. The talk largely centers around General Pershing. It is really his story. And that's kind of how I tell the battle, how it formed, and how it played out and ultimately its success. I'm often asked, you know, when did you begin writing this book. One of my colleagues asked me out in the hall today: Did you write this a few years ago and then wait to release it during the centennial? I wish I thought along those lines but not really. Part of the reason I was able to write a book like this is we are in the midst of the centennial World War I and we'll be commemorating America's entrance next year and then its participation as combatant the following year. In reality, the book started when I was a young man. And, yes, this is a photo of me of about age 5. It started because I used to go to a pediatrician in Silver Spring, Maryland, not far from here. It wasn't one of the more pleasant experiences; not that I had any health issues to deal with, I would just get nervous. I remember when my mom, who would take me, we would turn on to Pershing Drive, which is near where his office was, I would get this chill, this weird feeling in my stomach, this nervousness. He was the nicest guy on the planet. Don't get me wrong. He'd bribe me with artificial-flavored lollypops to make sure my experience was good. But I started seeing this name, Pershing, and it stuck in the back of my mind. Who was he? Why is there a street named for him? And it didn't really become clear until I studied history in college and then got the fortune to work here at the National Archives. For a number of years I was our Subject Area Specialist for the World War I records; so I got to see the documents that attributed to him, that he often would write in the margins, things that he wrote directly. And I got to know a fair amount about him. And then when the idea to write a book about the Meuse-Argonne, a battle, as already mentioned, more than a million Americans plus assistance from the French, I realized it was more and more his story and I was going to tell it through his words and what he wrote and what other wrote about him. So what I'd like to do to start out in the event you haven't read the book yet or you don't know a whole lot about General Pershing, we'll talk a little bit about him first and then about his warriors who fought under him and then about the battle itself. General Pershing, born 1860, in Laclede, Missouri, about an hour and a half drive two hours from Kansas City, right on the eve of the Civil War. He experienced his first so-called warfare during that time when guerrillas came through the town, ransacked his father's house -- I'm sorry, his father's business. As a young boy, he clung to his father and through the help of his parents they got through that tragedy. But he never really considered going into the military. It wasn't until he was a late teenager. He thought about a career as an attorney, as a teacher. But like a lot of people at that time then, only, the idea of a free education through one of the service academies wasn't a bad idea. His sister saw an advertisement in the local newspaper for the examinations for the military academy. They were going to take place in his hometown. He took the entrance exam, passed it, and ended up going to West Point. He did so-so there academically but he excelled as a leader. And a number of future officers who would serve under him during World War I were also classmates and they knew that Pershing had this ability to lead men. He had that kind of charisma. After graduating West Point, he served out on the West in the frontier. He was a company commander in the 10th U.S. Cavalry, which is one of the African American units formed after the Civil War. He did that. He went back. He taught in Nebraska, through the University of Nebraska, through what we would consider ROTC. But he went back and he taught at West Point. He was a horrible instructor. The cadets couldn't stand him. They made fun of him behind his back. And that's where the nickname of Black Jack came. It was the stronger word, the N word, but later softened to Black Jack. They made fun of him because he commanded the African American troops. He ended up commanding them again during the Spanish American War in the attack against the Spanish in Cuba. And then later on went back and had a number of roles, including serving in the Philippines. He was an advisor during the Russo-Japanese War. Then, as he's building his career, he meets a young woman in Washington, Francis Warren, who was the daughter of one of the high-anking senators who also heads the Military Affairs. He falls in love with her and they get married. Lo and behold, he gets a promotion. He jumps from a lower rank to brigadier general. Many questioned whether or not his association with Senator Warren, because he was his father-in-law, that he leapt across so many others on the list who were also up for promotion. And there might be a little bit of truth to that but I think the bottom line is Pershing built up a strong experience as a leader and as a commander and he deserved the promotion. They went and had a nice family of four children, three daughters and one son. They were living in the Presidio, in San Francisco. Pershing was called to the Mexican border in 1915. Tension was heating up between not so much the Mexican government but Americans who were living in Mexico. Mexico was under a revolution at the time and the U.S. government vacillated between who we were going to support and so forth. And there were a number of troubles, a number of Americans who were murdered. So it was a good idea to have American forces on the border. He moved down there in the late summer of 1915. Frankie, his wife, and their four children were to join him. Then one day in August, the telephone rang. His orderly wasn't there to answer it. So Pershing, frustrated, answered the phone. He said, "Hello. Who is it?" It was a reporter from one of the New York newspapers, not knowing that it was Pershing on the phone said, "I'm calling to verify the fire at the Pershing home." And there was this dead silence on the other end. And then Pershing said, "What fire? I haven't heard about this." At that point it was obvious to the reporter that he was talking to General Pershing at the time. Pershing told him: It is me; I need you to tell me what happened. The house, the previous evening they were doing some renovation on it and a fire broke out near a fireplace and engulfed the entire house. In addition to the Pershing family, there was another family also living in the home. They escaped the fire but unfortunately his wife and three of the four children, his three daughters, were killed in the fire. Only his son Warren survived. You can imagine how devastating this must have been to him. He traveled quickly back to San Francisco and had to, of course, identify the remains, get the family situation in order, and take care of his son Warren. He came back and served in the military. He came back to the Army. A year later Pancho Villa raids Columbus, New Mexico. President Wilson authorizes an expeditionary force, a punitive expedition, as he called i to go after Villa. Somebody had to lead it. Pershing was the obvious choice for a couple of reasons. One, he had the experience and as a leader, as a commander, and it was also thought this guy is in a bad place right now, very troubled about the loss of his family; we need to put him in a position of authority where he can get his mind off things. So he led the expedition into Mexico. It went on for a little over a year. The punitive expedition never captured Pancho Villa. Villa was severely wounded in one fight. A number of his so-called Villaestas were killed. But ultimately he got away for a number of reasons. Taking you into 1917, the U.S. finally gets into the war in April for a variety of reasons and somebody needs to lead what's going to be the expeditionary force overseas. There were a number of other commanders that actually outranked Pershing but nobody had the experience. And Secretary of War Baker suggested him. President Wilson agreed. And John J. Pershing now was going to lead the first large overseas contingent of the United States. And as I talk about in the book, he takes the Americans into the modern age. And what he's got at his disposal are a small group of American soldiers. There's roughly 127,000 regulars, professional soldiers. There's about 110,000 National Guard. Many of those had been called up on the Mexican border to protect the border against further incursions. They were federalized by President Wilson. Plus Wilson authorized a draft. There ended up being three conscriptions throughout World War I, including the drafted soldiers plus volunteers there were roughly about two million -- over two million who were either drafted or volunteered. But the regular troops, they had experience but not the type of experience one was going to need to fight a modern warfare overseas, especially on the Western front. And if any of you have ever been to the battlefields in France and in Belgium, you know that the remnants are still there of the trenches, the machine gun nests, and just the difficult terrain that the troops had to fight over. It's three years into the war. The British had been badly bloodied in battles at the Somme, more than 60,000 British troops were either killed or wounded on the first day, July 1, 1916. The French had been bloodied. And American troops were badly needed. The question, though, among the allies was: Why don't you bring these American troops over here and we'll join forces with the French and the British? We'll amalgamate them, as the term went. Well, President Wilson knew eventually this war would come to an end and that the Americans were going to need to have a say at the peace table. The only way they're going to have a legitimate say is to have an independent American Army. So he gives Pershing his instructions: You will form your first Army independently and fight independently. Now, the Americans had very little training. We had very few guns. We certainly didn't have the big guns, the artillery. We didn't have aircraft and a number of other supplies. So we relied heavily on the French and the British. Many of our troops trained with both the British Expeditionary Force and the French Army. But when it came to about a year of the U.S. being involved in the war and more and more American troops are coming over, Pershing pushed to form what he would call the First American Army. So he met with this gentleman here, Ferdinand Foch who was head of all the allied armies. He wasn't real excited about Pershing having his independent force They dickered back and forth. They had a number of very difficult meetings, almost came to blows. I go into discussion about this in the book. But Pershing was adamant about forming his First Army and fighting in their own front. And he selected an area that had been under German control since about September of 1914 when the war just commenced. And that's the area between the Meuse River and the Argonne Forest. Foch was not real happy but allowed Pershing to form this. Meanwhile, Pershing came up with an idea of attacking another area that had its base in St. Mehiel. And being able to fight that one battle, plus fight in the Meuse-Argonne, which was going to be part of a combined offensive effort beginning towards the end of September, was extremely difficult. Pershing was adamant, again, about this. Some officers called him obstinate but I feel like he had the Americans' best interest in this and it was up to him to make these decisions. St. Mehiel is attacked on September 12th. The Germans were somewhat aware of the Americans in the area, the potential for an offensive. They had begun a withdrawal but hadn't completely withdrawn from the salient. The Americans attacked, about 500,000 troops, and completely overwhelmed the Germans, liberated the area. And French citizens who had been basically isolated by the Germans for almost four years, living in cellars, having to give away their homes, give away their farmland, goods, cattle, supplies, things that were finally brought back. You can see from this image. By the way, most of the images that I'm going to show today, that you've seen, are from the Archives' Signal Corps collection. It's a wonderful collection in the process of being digitized. So St. Mihiel takes place. Speaking of birthdays, Pershing had his birthday September 13. He had turned 58. It was a great present for him. But there wasn't time to gloat over the battle. They had to start preparing for the attack on the Meuse-Argonne front. Pershing moved his headquarters to a little village. I'll show you that in a moment. But I wanted to show you an image. He traveled around by his own personal train. He wasn't the only one. Almost all the commanders had their trains. You notice some of the African Americans here. They were actually former pullmen, porters, who were recruited by the Army. And it was a full train, an office, a sleeper car, a kitchen. He had maps of the front and so forth. So he moves his headquarters to the mayor's department here, the mayor's building here in Souilly. You can still see it today. It's well marked. The French used this during the battle of Verdun a couple of years ago. You can go in the building. The steps with worn-out wooden. You can imagine the number of French officers going all the way to the top where the office is. So they're starting to plan this battle. And they've got to figure out how are we going to get all of these American troops towards the front where mostly French troops are and get them in line. The person who orchestrates this, who is one of the unsung heroes of the war -- we hear a lot about him during the Second World War and then later during the rebuilding of Europe -- and that's George C. Marshall, the V.M.I. graduate, entered the service, served in the in the First Division as a operations officer. He did a wonderful job in one of the first American battles in Cantigny. He was brought in by Pershing to be on his staff. It was really up to Marshall to do the planning and somehow he was able to manage to get more than 500,000 troops brought in at night, traveling along roads and bring them to the front to prepare for the attack which had been set for the early morning hours of September 26 of 1918. Many of the troops were brought forward by French Indo-Chinese drivers. They were recruited, again, by the French, brought the Americans in -- keep in mind, many of the Americans hadn't been out of their home towns much less traveled to France and were amazed at these drivers. Some of them thought they were Chinese. But they often wrote about their experiences and how rough it was driving to the front. Sure enough, they get there in a few days. The Germans have no idea that the Americans are going to attack. They know the Americans are in the area; they are flying planes over and they can see that more and more American troops, doughboys, as we called them, are forming for some kind of operation. The Germans don't know exactly when it's going to take place and where. 3:30 in the morning, the artillery kicks off, more than 1,000 French guns, .75-millimeter, .155-millimeter, start firing towards the German positions. A few hours later, what they called in World War I, the American troops jumped off. Most of them were not in trenches. We think about the trenches. They were actually out in the open either in forested areas or hunkered down in former shell holes. But the battle commences and it moves forward and moves forward rapidly. The American troops make great gains on the first day. One of the key landmarks, Falcon Mountain. It's the high ground. The Germans have observation posts there. They had had posts there since 1914. They can see where the troops are coming. And it's a key post to take out early in the battle. Pershing wants it done the first day. The French tell him he's crazy; it may take until Christmas. But the attack happens in that area and the Americans make some gains but they are driven back. It's not until the second day that one of the regiments, from Maryland, actually from Baltimore, the 313th, part of the 79th Division, capture the post. Meanwhile, as the battle plays out, it starts to bog down. And part of the problem with the battle, in any World War I battle, for that matter, is communication. They used wireless but there were also wires laid by the Signal Corps troops who would move them forward. But they were easy targets for the Germans. In order to get messages forward, we needed clear communication. I mentioned Marshall being an unsung hero of the battle. Certainly the telephone operators, also known as "Hello girls," did it, were a key to any success with the American operation. They were recruited by the bell companies as the war commenced. One of the attributions is they had to speak French and they had to be able to handle pressure behind the lines. They were mostly close to the front. You could see behind their chairs that they have the Army-issued doughboy helmets plus gas masks because you never knew when an attack was going to happen. They served quite well. And at the end of the war Pershing commended them as true soldiers of the Army. Another problem -- we often bemoan about traffic issues here in the Washington area. Certainly it was a problem over there. There were only three roads lead leading to the front, most of which had been pummeled by the Germans through their artillery throughout the past four years. Plus, once the battle commenced, they started aiming their artillery onto these roads. If you've been to Northern France in the autumn, you know it rains there quite a bit. It's damp. So the roads would puddle up. The engineers would have to go out and try and replace the holes, cover them over using whatever they could find. What happens is there's major congestion, which means supplies are not getting to the front which includes food, water, medical supplies, but also armaments and it becomes a huge problem. And slowly the battle starts to really bog down to the point of the Americans aren't making any gains and there's significant amount of pressure put on Pershing. Perhaps maybe he's not the guy to lead the Americans. Maybe he doesn't understand the logistics. And the French and British are pressuring him to step down and allow one of their commanders to take over. They are threatening President Wilson that Pershing needs to go. But Wilson stands behind him. As the battle goes on and the pressure, and Pershing is going to the front constantly talking to his troops, trying to push them on, he's relieving commanders. He was the ultimate micro-manager. I mentioned in some of the documents here at NARA that he created -- often you would see his signatures. He would go to the front. If he felt like one of his officers wasn't performing, he would fire them. He would either send them to one of the rear areas or some of them, in a case, were shipped home. But the pressure was getting to him significantly. On one of his trips to the front, his aide, Major Quitmeyer [ph] was in the front seat and he heard his boss bemoan, "Frankie, Frankie, oh, my God what am I doing, this isn't going well." He was calling out his deceased wife's name. He basically was almost having a nervous breakdown. But he pulled himself together. He regrouped. When he had formed the First Army, he was still commanding the entire American Army, which was known as American Expeditionary Forces. He decided at this point he was going to step down as the commander of First Army and in his place he appointed one of his brilliant corps commanders, a guy named Hunter Liggett. This allowed Pershing a little bit more lenience in the sense of how he was running things. But he keeps going back to the micro-manager theme. that train I showed you, he had it parked near Souilly. Pershing was the mainstay in the headquarters there and absolutely badgering Liggett all the time. When Pershing wasn't around the Meuse-Argonne front, he was often in Paris, a home he was allowed to use. But he had another reason for going to Paris. And that was a young woman who was 22 years old when they met in 1917. Her name was Micheline Resco. She was a Romanian artist. They met at a party. She was commissioned to do a portrait of Pershing which she had done with a number of other officers. And they hit it off. They developed a romantic relationship which actually lasted until Pershing's death in the late 1940's. Previous authors have called her his mistress, which in my mind is not true. She was not married. He was widowed. He certainly had the right to date and have a companion. He was, I think, pretty embarrassed by the significant age difference of more than 30-some years. And he didn't talk about it very much but it was the worst kept secret within the Army. Almost everyone knew about Pershing and Micheline. As the battle progresses and Liggett takes over, he has a number of things to deal with. Straggling is a huge issue. We think of it as maybe troops who didn't want to fight anymore. But fighting in that area especially in the dense Argonne Forest, troops often got lost from their units. So the military police would come in and gather them up and bring them back to their units. But also getting supplies forwarded. Animals were used -- as you can see, the roads themselves are hard, muddy often from the rain. So they found different ways to bring supplies to the front. Slowly things progressed but also Liggett had to deal with something that nobody expected, and that was the influenza epidemic. By October it was in its second phase, first in the summer and now it was even more devastating. Hundreds of thousands of troops on all sides were impacted, especially the First Army. It was first believed to be pneumonia and then later it was determined that it was the flu. So he had to deal with the sick and also the injured soldiers. And many of them were brought to field hospitals close to the front where they were treated. If their wounds were more serious, they were brought back and taken to general hospitals. Those caring for them were nurses who volunteered either with the Army Nurse Corps or the Red Cross. And it was treacherous duty. They were often at the front working long hours. We like to say today 24/7. They certainly were working that. It was dangerous situations. Two of them, the Cromwell sisters, Gladys and Dorothea, from a wealthy New York family, they joined up, served in one of the hospitals towards the front. And it was a horrific experience for them. They had seen many, many mangled men, young boys. They had witnessed death. When the war was over and they finally returned home to France, they were on one of the ships heading back in early 1919. They must have made a pact because as the ship was leaving France and heading into the Atlantic, they went on the first deck of the ship and jumped over and committed suicide. One of the mainstays of the Army, which was part of the American Expeditionary Forces, not an independent arm like it is today with the air service, that was led by the gentleman on the far left, Colonel Billy Mitchell who was promoted to brigadier general, a very competent officer who built the air service. The problem was, because the weather was so poor throughout the battle that the air corps did not have as much impact as it wanted. During St. Mihiel, during a thousand planes that got airborne, during the Meuse-Argonne, during the 47 days, there were only about 800, many had to leave later in the day because of the heavy clouds. One of the heroes of the war is the officer standing by the wreckage, the German wreckage, Frank Luke. He was known as a balloon buster. The Germans would launch these balloon, sausages as they called them. And his job was to get close to them, even though the balloons were heavily protected by antiaircraft fire below, and shoot them down. He had 18 victories leading up until the second day of the Meuse-Argonne and then on September 27 he was shot down and killed. In the far left corner, underneath Billy Mitchell, is, of course, Eddie Rickenbacker from the famous 94th Aero squadron. He was the American ace of the war, having 26 victories. Another gentleman, here underneath Frank Luke, you may not be as familiar with, Merian Cooper. And Cooper, like a lot of young men, joined up early. He actually was at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. Didn't do too well there, was booted out, joined the National Guard, wanted an adventure, joined the air service even though it was incredibly dangerous, and took off on the first day of the Meuse-Argonne. His plane was shot down. He was held in captivity throughout the war. After the war, he gets out. He actually is responsible for finding the remains of Frank Luke. He goes on after World War I and joins the Polish Air Force. But more famously, many years later, he became the Director of "King Kong" and he was also a well-known cinematographer. Other heroes that you may already know about that at least deserve a prominent role in the book, of course, George S. Patton. He started out as a driver, actually on Pershing's crew. He came over as one of his aides. He ends up in the corps, a new fledgling arm of the service. On the first day of the battle he's attacking in support of the unit to the far right with the guy on the horse, Harry S. Truman. He was a battery commander in the artillery unit of the 35th Division. Patton's support, they are fighting towards the front, and Patton is shot through the thigh, badly wounded, and he's out of the battle for the remainder of the war. In the middle, of course, is Douglas MacArthur who ended up becoming a brigadier general in the 42nd, the Rainbow Division. Quite a character. Long-time service, West Point graduate. He was also the highest decorated officer in the First World War, eventually winning seven Silver Stars and Distinguished Service crosses. The battle commences through Liggett's leadership. The Americans are able to overwhelm the Germans, break through their lines, break through the wire, get around these machine gun nests which are devastating the American troops. And because the Germans recognize that the battle is not going well, by the -- by about 3/4 into the battle, there are more than a million Americans fighting along with about 300,000 French. There are another million or so Americans who were ready to come over to the U.S. if shipping is available. It's pretty much the end of the road for the Germans. Behind-the-scenes negotiating takes place. And an armistice is called for on November 11, 1918. Because the allies, Americans and French and even the British, feared that the Germans might renege on this armistice, the fighting took place all the way up until 11:00 a.m. We had American casualties who were killed right up to that last minute. After the war, Hunter Liggett was brought before Congress and drilled about why the war continued on. But the obvious reason was it was only in armistice -- keep in mind, that's not a surrender. It just means we're stopping the war for right now to negotiate a surrender. But the armistice does take place at that appointed time and the battle winds down. And the war winds down. The reason, again, that the war winds down is because of this 47-day battle. And it's because of the Americans came in, because Pershing was adamant that the Americans fight as an independent force. When the battle ends and the histories are starting to be written, there's some question about what the American role was. Certainly American bloodshed over in the Meuse-Argonne was significant. You had heroes all of a sudden that came out through the news media: Sam Woodfill in the 5th Division who defeated a small group of Germans on his own in a machine gun nest; Charles Whittllesey who led the so-called lost battalion, a group of soldiers from the 77th Division that were neither lost or entirely a battalion but were caught in the Argonne forest, trapped there. The Americans knew where they were and they fought for over six days to rescue them. Part of the rescue took place in another part of the Argonne, the 82nd Division. And a guy named Alvin York, corporal promoted to sergeant helped fight the Germans. He ended up capturing more than 100 Germans single-handedly and his story became synonymous with the Meuse-Argonne and the First World War. When the fighting had ended, as I mentioned, there's more than a million Americans but their accomplishment was significant. They captured more than 2,400 German guns. They had fired more than four million of their own shells; as I mentioned, 840 planes. They also took more than 16,000 German POWs and penetrated more than 34 miles. And over those 47 days, they also recaptured something like 150 French villages. Unfortunately many of them were now inhabitable but were later rebuilt through the help of American money that had come over after the war. But it was a heavy cost for the Americans and for General Pershing. More than 120,000 warriors were killed and wounded. Roughly about 26,000 of those had died either from combat or from the influenza. For the Germans, the exact number of their belligerence is roughly around 450,000 with about 28,000 killed, another 100,000 are wounded. Many of the Americans who were killed there, more than 14,000, are laid to rest in the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery, which is actually the largest cemetery of the American Battle Monuments Commission burial sites overseas. We also think about Normandy, which has greater acclaim but Meuse-Argonne is a larger cemetery. It's certainly not a reason to brag but it shows the sacrifice that these men made. And there are women buried there as well. So to sum up the battle, again, this was General Pershing's battle. This was his to fight, essentially his to lose. But he led the American troops ably. And without the American warriors this battle would not have taken place. It's easy to say that perhaps the war might have gone on far into 1919 with more significant bloodshed. Thank you for your time and attention. >> [Applause] >> Mitchell Yockelson: I'll be happy to take any questions. >> Were the Pershing boots that much of an improvement? I have three questions. Then could you say he invented the military police or did he reinvent them? And were the Americans assigned that section of the front because the terrain was so rugged in case the enemy broke through, they couldn't advance as far? That's fast. >> Mitchell Yockelson: I wasn't sure about your first question about the Pershing boots. But as far as the military police, to the best of my knowledge, this is the first time that military police were used by the American Army. Of course, a lot of what we learned was through the British and the French. They had their own, you know, law enforcement within the military. And they played a significant role. Your question brings up one other point. When we look at the photographs of American troops in their uniforms overseas, we look at the motion pictures from the Signal Corps collection here at the Archives, it kind of looks archaic. But the truth of the matter, this was the modern age of warfare. If it hadn't been for the Americans learning how to fight on the Meuse-Argonne front, we wouldn't have been the Army that we became in World War II and become the superpower later on and become a predominant military today. And as far as your question about the sector, that's a good question. This is something that Pershing had negotiated with, with the French. He wanted an area where the Americans could have some prominence and make an impact. He had had his eye on the Meuse-Argonne front even before he came over to France. Of course, he's a student of military history. He knew that that area was significant, largely because it was also a big supply route and there were rail lines feeding into the Western front. So he really encouraged folks to give the Americans that front not because he knew it was the toughest but he felt like it was going to make the most impact. >> You mentioned that there was intense negotiation between Pershing and the French generals regarding the use of the troops. As you know, black troops of the 92nd and 93rd were transferred to the 157th French unit. I'd like to know the decision behind that. As you know, Pershing served with the black unit, the 10th Cavalry. And the treatment of black troops, particularly combat troops in World War I, was horrendous. I'm just also curious to know why wasn't the 9th and 10th Cavalry transferred to Europe. They were basically segregated and just remained in the western part of the country. Those were elite units but they never got to serve in Europe. I just basically have those two questions. >> Mitchell Yockelson: Excellent question. There were more than 200,000 African Americans who served with the American Expeditionary Forces overseas. Unfortunately, as you point out, many of them who had experience in fighting either with the regular troops in the U.S. in 9th and 10th Cavalry were put into basically support roles. Many of them were stevedores, unloading the ships at the docks, or they were laborers, building the roads, building Army facilities. But there were the two divisions, the 92nd Division, which you mentioned, which was an entire division, and then there was the 93rd, that was a provisional division. You would have thought that Pershing having commanded African American troops would have welcomed them but he didn't. The answer is not entirely clear other than the fact that the military was is segregated at the time. He followed the protocol of the military. How the African American troops ended up with the French, the 92nd were attached to the French and actually fought to the left of the Americans in the Meuse-Argonne. The 93rd fought in a different sector. But when the negotiations and the French were hammering Pershing to get American troops, he said, ok, I'm not going to give you some of my white combat units but I will give you the African American troops. And the French were glad to take them. They had their own African corps, troops, so they were used to dealing with African soldiers. And the African American troops fought extremely well. The 92nd Division, unfortunately, had a share of problems mostly because of poor leadership but the troops themselves fought extremely well. The 93rd Division, the provisional division, had the 369th, the Harlem Hell Fighters, the Harlem Rattlers which they were also called. -- what -- they were in line more than any other American unit during the war. So to sum up the answer to your question, it is not entirely clear why Pershing didn't push for African American troops other than the fact that he kept the Army segregated. I think that was a mistake. Yes, sir? >> Yes, a question related to the training of the officer corps and the different units and, of course, the different branches of the Army. Pershing arrived or even before he arrived in France, he did realize there was a need for reforming much of the Army in terms of schooling and preparing the forces to be in places like France or in an expeditionary force whereas the Army had never been that large before and was facing those unique challenges? So in his mind was he working on that already when he arrived in France? He really didn't know how long the war would go. >> Mitchell Yockelson: He absolutely was. In fact, he established schools, almost like universities, to train officers in various things such as intelligence, logistics, supplies, so forth. And the officers were sent to these schools. In fact, some of the schools were going on on the eve of the attack on September 26 and there were a number of officers that weren't even available to lead their units. So he was well aware that many of the young officers who didn't have the experience he had in the Philippines and during the Spanish American War were going to need specialized training. And that's really where our allies stepped up to help us. The British and the French were the primary instructors of our officers. Many of them, unfortunately, were not very good. As I mentioned before, he called out the ones that he thought were poor officers, either lazy or didn't have the ability, the strength to lead the troops and he dismissed them. >> Aside from the records of the Signal Corps, what other records did you use both at the National Archives and in other repositories? >> Mitchell Yockelson: Well, as one historian is called in the National Archives, it is the mother's milk for military history. Certainly the records here are far greater than any other to document the AEF, the American Expeditionary Forces, and the Meuse-Argonne. But I also spent some time up at Carlisle at the Military History Institute there where they had the personal papers of Donovan and one of the other key officers, Hugh Drum, plus a number of staff officers. Plus they had these questionnaires. Those are the two key areas. I also went down to where VMI. is in Lexington and looked at George C. Marshall's papers. And without writing the story on Pershing, you can't write the story without looking at his papers. So I spent a fair amount of time with our friends at the Library of Congress looking at Pershing's papers, Billy Mitchell's, and so forth. So those were the key areas I spent and a few other repositories that I was able to sneak in. Yes, sir? >> Three questions. One, did Pershing himself come up with his famous line "Lafayette, we are here" or is that some speechwriter's invention? Secondly, what happened to his female companion after his death? Was she given any kind of recognition or compensation, whatever? And third, Pershing's gravesite at Arlington Cemetery, it's quite moving. I assume he, himself, dictated he just wanted a simple soldier's headstone. But somebody made the decision to give it a whole lot of space by itself. And the only other nearby is for his grandson. I wanted to know how that came about. >> Mitchell Yockelson: The first question -- it was one of his aides who said "Lafayette, we are here." But it was a tribute. It was his way of showing that the French that we're here to absolutely support you and that, you know, we are here, like Lafayette was during the American Revolution to support the colonists in our rebellion against the British. I think I lost you on the second question. >> What happened to his female companion? >> Mitchell Yockelson: Oh, right. Well, he remained with her but they had what we would call a long-distance relationship. She stayed back in France. He came back to the U.S., mostly lived here in Washington. But he became Chairman of the American Battle Monuments Commission and his work took him over where they were constructing the cemeteries and putting up memorials. So he would see her there. They had a lengthy correspondence which is another place I did some research. Their letters were collected by one of Pershing's previous biographers, Father Donald Smith, and they are at the Catholic Archdiocese Archives in St. Louis. You can see the communication between the two of them. They were deeply in love but Pershing had his business here and she had her business over in France. He did bring her over to the U.S. in the 1920s. She set up a gallery in New York for a short period. I don't believe it was very successful. And she went back to France. However when World War II broke out in 1939, he brought her back to the U.S., along with her mother. They lived in what's now the Marriott Wardman Hotel off Connecticut Avenue. They had an apartment there. At this point Pershing was pretty sick. He was getting on in age and had a number of illnesses. He had his own suite at Walter Reed. She would visit him there. And towards the end of his life, they did get married. They brought a priest into the suite. He officiated their marriage. When he passed away, he left her a significant amount of money through his remaining son -- remaining child, Warren, who was an investment banker. And I've seen the insurance annuities. She was well taken care of. And then that leads to your third question, Warren had a couple of sons; one of them Richard, who was killed in the Vietnam War. Pershing did ask to have a simple soldier's burial on a plot in Arlington Cemetery. And when Richard was killed during the war, he was brought there and they face each other on that hill. It is a fairly significant area. But also not far from there is the last American who served in World War I, Frank Buckles. So it's almost become a tribute to World War I in that area. >> You almost took my question away. It has to do with the end of Pershing's life. In relation to his comments to Eisenhower or others when he realized that they were going to have to refight essentially the same war and he hadn't been a participant, I don't believe, at the Treaty of Versailles. Did he ever make any comments as the Second World War began to open up in terms of how he saw the effort in World War I? >> Mitchell Yockelson: Absolutely. In fact, all of the general officers from Bradley to Patton to Eisenhower all visited Pershing at his suite at Walter Reed. It's said that Patton got down on his knees and kissed Pershing's West Point ring. They kind of wanted his words of wisdom before they left to go overseas in the case -- early in the war with North Africa. And eventually, Eisenhower, of course, the liberation with Europe. So Pershing, even though he was of age, he was well aware of what was going on. I think he tried to give some advice to FDR who politely listened but he was a soldier of a different age. Had he been perhaps younger, it's hard to say whether he would have had a role in the Second World War. Certainly, the key officers there recognized that if it wasn't for Pershing, they wouldn't be in this situation they were in. Yes? >> Earlier in his career when he was dealing with African Americans and then some missions to deal with Native-Americans and also Filipinos, was he identified as, oh, he's good at dealing with diverse population that maybe the other officers weren't? >> Mitchell Yockelson: Absolutely. That's an excellent point. I talk a little bit about that. For example, the Morrows, who were not happy at all about having Americans in the Philippines -- after all, they had rebelled against the Spanish rule for hundreds of years. The Spanish American War drove the Spanish away. And the next thing you know, the Americans are there. And the Marrows were very defiant. But Pershing was able to use, unfortunately, a little bit of combat but along with a lot of perseverance and diplomatic talking to pacify them. That became one of his strengths. By the way, there's been recent comments in the news by a certain presidential candidate who claimed that Pershing had help pacify the Morrows by dipping the American bullets in pig blood because, of course, the Morrows are Muslim. There's no truth to that whatsoever. Yes, sir? >> Did you use the knowledge of the American Civil War, namely the Americans of General Grant? >> Mitchell Yockelson: He worshiped General Grant. Grant was his hero. He studied the Civil War battles, especially the wilderness, which is somewhat like the Meuse-Argonne, the same sort of terrain in Virginia. So he was definitely well aware of the Civil War battles. And he was even criticized in some ways for that because of the fact that he was throwing, you know, American men against these strong German defenses which the American Civil War showed, like at Gettysburg, Fredericksburg. Petersburg never exactly worked. But Pershing's idea was to fight the so-called open warfare out of the trenches. And that was the only way that the Americas were going to persevere and bring this long war to a close. >> The Bonus Army March of 1932, of course, MacArthur led the troops with his aide, Eisenhower to roust the bonus marchers. Of course there's the famous story of Patton, the guy who saved Patton in World War I, Patton ignored him. My question is, did anyone consult -- did Pershing ever say anything about the Bonus Army when it was going on? Did he have any reflections upon it? >> Mitchell Yockelson: That's a good question. I've never seen anything. I did some research on that for a previous book on Douglas MacArthur. I know Eisenhower was adamant against it but as far as Pershing, I never saw any comments. If he did make them, they were behind the scenes. I've never seen anything publicly. He couldn't have been happy about it, I'm sure. I mean, these were the same doughboys, American troops, that had fought together on the battlefields in France and here was the American Army, you know, MacArthur foolishly -- basically attacking them. >> Including tear gas, ironically. >> Mitchell Yockelson: And used tear gas. It was an embarrassment. It literally, I think, cost President Hoover re-election. I've never seen any comments from Pershing about it. I'm told we're out of time which I guess is a good thing. There are books for sale that I'll be happy to sign for you up in the book shop. Thank you, again, for coming out. I really appreciate it. >> [Applause]

Contents

The Campaign

The Fall 1917 election, which The New York Times called a "puzzle without parallel",[1] would have been exciting even had it occurred in peacetime. In September, the City held its first-ever primary elections for mayor. Incumbent Fusion Mayor John Purroy Mitchel (an insurgent Democrat) who had enjoyed Republican non-opposition in 1913, apparently won the Republican primary until a series of counting mistakes and frauds (followed by criminal indictments) forced recounts that gave a narrow victory to William M. Bennett. Attempts to find a compromise anti-Tammany candidate failed, Bennett declined to withdraw from the race, and Mitchel went on to wage an independent campaign for re-election.

But the mayoral election happened in the same year as the United States' entry into World War One on April 6. An emergency national convention and referendum of the Socialist Party of America overwhelmingly approved a resolution, co-authored by Morris Hillquit (the Party's candidate for Mayor of New York), which proclaimed,

The Socialist Party of the United States in the present grave crisis solemnly reaffirms its allegiance to the principle of internationalism and working-class solidarity the world over, and proclaims its unalterable opposition to the war just declared by the Government of the United States. [2]

Hillquit's refusal to support the war by such acts as buying Liberty Bonds [3] won the Socialists new support in many immigrant communities,[4] but vitriolic denunciations from many quarters, including The New York Times, Mayor Mitchel, who hinted at Hillquit's foreign birth by saying that "any man who will not buy a Liberty bond when he can afford them is not fit to be a citizen of the United States",[5] and ex-President Theodore Roosevelt (the Republicans' 1886 candidate for Mayor), who declared that Hillquit "stands as an aid to the Prussianized autocracy of the Hohenzollerns." [6]

"The New Western Front", a Sunday New York Times cartoon of November 4th, 1917, implying that German enemy rulers favor Mayoral candidates Morris Hillquit and John F. Hylan on Election Day two days later. The caption reads, Crown Prince: "Any more victories, Papa?" - Kaiser (Wilhelm II): "I can't tell until Tuesday."
"The New Western Front", a Sunday New York Times cartoon of November 4th, 1917, implying that German enemy rulers favor Mayoral candidates Morris Hillquit and John F. Hylan on Election Day two days later. The caption reads, Crown Prince: "Any more victories, Papa?" - Kaiser (Wilhelm II): "I can't tell until Tuesday."

The Fusion campaign decided to direct its last week against Hillquit (who would eclipse Mitchel in The Bronx while matching his vote in Queens and Brooklyn), rather than against Judge John F. Hylan, the candidate of Tammany Hall and William Randolph Hearst. (Hearst, the newspaper publisher who was the 1905 Mayoral candidate of the Municipal Ownership League, and Hylan, who had started life operating subway trains, were both strong opponents of the city's private transit companies.) Hylan's position on the war was unclear, but not his sharp victory over all three of his major rivals on November 6 (exactly seven months after the U.S. Declaration of War and one day before the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia). Although a divided opposition let Hylan carry the City and three of her boroughs with less than 50% of the total vote, the numbers (as in 1897) suggest that Tammany Hall might very easily have won a two-candidate race.

The New York City Socialists won the highest percentage of the Mayoral vote they would ever receive, while electing ten State Assemblymen, seven city Aldermen, and a municipal court judge.

Running for President of the Board of Aldermen (the position from which Acting Mayors succeeded when elected Mayors could not serve) on the same Democratic ticket as Hylan was Al Smith, then Sheriff of New York County (Manhattan), and previously Democratic Leader and Speaker of the New York State Assembly. (Smith had hoped to run for Mayor himself, but Tammany Hall leader Charles F. Murphy chose Hylan instead, partly out of deference to Hearst and to John McCooey, the Democratic leader in Brooklyn.) Smith easily defeated the New York City Fire Commissioner, Robert Adamson, who was running for Board President on the Fusion ticket with Mitchel.[7]

Later careers of the participants

General Election Results

Mayor Mitchel ran second to Judge Hylan in every borough but the Bronx, where Hillquit pushed Mitchel into third place. (Hillquit came within 200 votes of doing the same in Queens.) Bennett (the Republican), who came in fourth everywhere else, came third and pushed Hillquit into fourth place (and below 10%) on Staten Island. Hylan (who led everywhere) won pluralities, rather than absolute majorities, in the City as a whole and in Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn, winning a slim overall majority in Queens and a decisive (4-3) majority on Staten Island.

candidate party Manhattan The Bronx Brooklyn Queens Richmond
(Staten Is.)
Total %
John Francis Hylan Democratic 113,728 41,546 114,487 35,399 8,850 314,010 46.8%
46.4% 42.9% 46.5% 51.7% 58.3%
John Purroy Mitchel Fusion 66,748 19,247 52,921 13,641 2,940 155,497 23.2%
27.3% 19.9% 21.5% 19.9% 19.4%
Morris Hillquit Socialist 51,176 30,374 48,880 13,477 1,425 145,332 21.7%
20.9% 31.4% 19.9% 19.7% 9.4%
William M. Bennett Republican 13,230 5,576 29,748 5,916 1,968 56,438 8.4%
5.4% 5.8% 12.1% 8.6% 13.0%
Subtotal 244,882 96,743 246,036 68,433 15,183 671,277
Edmund Seidel Socialist Labor 20,586
others
T O T A L 691,809

[Others and Total from The Encyclopedia of New York City (Yale, 1995), which does not exactly match the other numbers, taken from The World Almanac for 1929 & 1943.]

See also

References

  1. ^ CITY'S MOST COMPLEX ELECTION, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, November 4, 1917, page 2, seen June 18, 2008, which begins, "MEN who have lived long in New York City and had opportunities for a close view of its political battles say that the present Mayoralty campaign is the most extraordinary within their memory."
  2. ^ War proclamation and program adopted at the National Convention of the Socialist Party of the United States, St. Louis, Mo., April 1917 accessed June 18, 2008. Available in print as "St. Louis Manifesto of the Socialist Party 1917" in Socialism in America from the Shakers to the Third International: a documentary history, edited by Albert Fried, Doubleday Anchor edition, 1970, page 521
  3. ^ In point 2 of its program, the St. Louis Manifesto (cited above) promised, "We pledge ourselves to oppose with all our strength any attempt to raise money for payment of war expense by taxing the necessaries of life or issuing bonds which will put the burden upon future generations. We demand that the capitalist class, which is responsible for the war, pay its cost. Let those who kindled the fire, furnish the fuel."
  4. ^ Irving Howe, World of Our Fathers, (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 1976 ISBN 0-15-146353-0), pages 319-321; James Weinstein's Decline of Socialism (see Sources below), Vintage 1969 edition, page 158
  5. ^ Weinstein's Decline of Socialism, Vintage 1969 edition, page 151, citing The New York World of October 26, 1917
  6. ^ ROOSEVELT CALLS SUPPORT OF MAYOR DUTY TO NATION, The New York Times, Tuesday, October 30, 1917, page 1. The sub-headlines read: Declares Votes for Mitchel Will Hearten True Americans in War Crisis. HILLQUIT IS DENOUNCED Colonel Declares He Stands as Aid to the Hohenzollern's 'Prussianized Autocracy.' ASSAILS THE 'SHADOW HUNS' Asserts Voters Must Decide Whether America Is to Become a "Polyglot Boarding House."
  7. ^ Robert A. Slayton, Empire Statesman: The Rise and Redemption of Al Smith, The Free Press, New York, 2001, ISBN 0-684-86302-2, pages 115-116
  8. ^ Robert A. Slayton, Empire Statesman: The Rise and Redemption of Al Smith, The Free Press, New York, 2001, ISBN 0-684-86302-2, pages 221-225.

Sources

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