1915s

The Birthday, Marc Chagall. 1915. 

Do y’all have those artworks that you love because someone else loves them? My modern art history professor was really fond of Chagall. I wasn’t that big of a fan, but he adores this painting. “Look at how happy he is,” he explained to us, smiling. The image depicts the artist and his first wife, Bella Rosenfeld. They are literally floating in the painting, carried away by their happiness. The interior is simple, personal, bright, and intimate. 

“ Her silence is mine, her eyes mine. It is as if she knows everything about my childhood, my present, my future, as if she can see right through me,” Chagall said of Bella.

June 2nd, 1915 - General Townshend Marches Up the Tigris, Turkish Garrisons Surrender to Small British Force

Pictured - Crossing flooded ground in Mesopotamia, 1915.

A British and Indian expeditionary force, landed in Mesopotamia in October 1914 to protect British interests in the Gulf, especially the newly important oil fields of southern Persia that fueled Britain’s latest warships.  By November they had conquered Basra, the main city of southern Mesopotamia, and by June 1915 they reached the Tigris.  The expeditionary force’s commander was Sir Charles Townshend, a veteran of the bush wars on India’s North-West Frontier.  As the first summer month started he personally led the advance, with a tiny vanguard of a hundred British soldiers and sailors.

Moving from their base at Kurna, the advance party reached Amara on June 2nd.  The Turkish garrison there surrendered without firing a shot - all 2,000 of them, including an entire battalion of the Constantinople Fire Brigade.  They were probably more scared of the 20,000 Arab inhabitants of Amara than of the British, and were only too happy to surrender.  The British felt rather cheerful themselves, especially when one Turkish officer requested permission to send a telegraph home to his wife in Anatolia, reading: ‘Safely captured.’ 

Kaiser Limits U-Boat Campaign; Bryan Confronts Wilson

Wilson and his Cabinet.  Not pictured are the increasingly influential advisors, Col. House and Counselor Lansing.

June 1 1915, Berlin & Washington–American anger over the sinking of the Lusitania was beginning to worry many in Germany. Chief among these was Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg, who wanted to ensure there would be no repeat of the incident–or worse, further sinkings of US-flagged ships. At his urging, the Kaiser convened a meeting on May 31 of Army, Navy, and political leaders to discuss the campaign. The Chancellor found support from Falkenhayn, who was worried that the submarine campaign may anger other neutrals, especially Bulgaria. Admirals Tirpitz and Bachmann refused to consider any moderation of the campaign, saying that the only way to completely prevent attacks on neutral shipping would be to suspend the campaign entirely. The Kaiser, as ever afraid of looking weak on military matters, was certainly unwilling to call off the U-boats, whose quick and attention-grabbing victories had proven quite popular in Germany. 

Eventually, a compromise was reached. Stricter orders would be issued to U-boat captains, telling them to err on the side of letting an Allied vessel escape rather than sink a neutral one, and to refrain entirely of sinking passenger liners of any nationality. Additionally, if the campaign would have to be called off in the future, the Chancellor would take full political responsibility for the fallout. Tirpitz and Bachmann still found this compromise unacceptable as it weakened the U-boats and admitted wrongdoing regarding the Lusitania; the pair submitted their resignations but these were rejected by the Kaiser. 

Meanwhile, in Washington, Wilson and his cabinet were reacting to the recent German note. Wilson held that the German allegations that the Lusitania was an auxiliary cruiser carrying munitions were irrelevant: 

Whatever may be the facts regarding the Lusitania, the principal fact is that a great steamer, primarily and chiefly a conveyance for passengers and carrying more than a thousand souls who had no part or lot in the conduct of the war, was torpedoed and sunk without so much as a challenge or a warning and that men, women and children were sent to their death in circumstances unparalleled in modern warfare. 

The United States cannot admit that the proclamation of a war zone…may be made to operate as in any degree an abbreviation of the rights…of American citizens bound on lawful errands as passengers of ships of belligerent nations. 

This stance infuriated Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, who did not accept that Americans were guaranteed safety if they chose to travel on belligerent vessels. He also held that Germany’s U-boat campaign and the British blockade of Germany were equally dangerous to America’s rights as a neutral. However, Bryan, three-time presidential candidate, had been continually sidelined by Col. House, Counselor Lansing, and Wilson himself. During the cabinet meeting, Bryan seemed to be “under great strain” and sat back in his chair “with his eyes half closed.” Eventually, he lashed out, demanding a rewording of the President’s reply: “You people are not neutral. You are taking sides.” Bryan was overruled on this measure yet again. 

Sources include: Robert K. Massie, Castles of Steel; Diana Preston, Lusitania.

Every living being is an engine geared to the wheelwork of the universe. Though seemingly affected only by its immediate surrounding, the sphere of external influence extends to infinite distance. There is no constellation or nebula, no sun or planet, in all the depths of limitless space, no passing wanderer of the starry heavens, that does not exercise some control over its destiny—not in the vague and delusive sense of astrology, but in the rigid and positive meaning of physical science.

More than this can be said. There is no thing endowed with life—from man, who is enslaving the elements, to the humblest creature—in all this world that does not sway it in turn. Whenever action is born from force, though it be infinitesimal, the cosmic balance is upset and universal motion result.

—  Nikola Tesla. “HOW COSMIC FORCES SHAPE OUR DESTINIES”. New York American. February 7, 1915.

Pacific Electric Motor Flat by Metro Library and Archive
Via Flickr:
circa 1915 This photo depicts Pacific Electric flat motor 1520 on the Mt. Lowe line’s Alpine Division. This car was built by Pacific Electric in 1914, using Brill trucks from a Los Angeles Traction streetcar (3-foot, 6-inch gauge) to carry freight, in this instance hay for Herbert the mule, who powered open cars for the "One Man and a Mule" railway at top of the line. The flat motor car was left behind after helping to dismantle the Alpine Division in 1938.

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Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan novels

Tarzan of the Apes (1912); The Return of Tarzan (1913); The Beasts of Tarzan (1914); The Son of Tarzan (1915); Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar (1916); Tarzan the Terrible (1921); Tarzan and the Golden Lion (1922); Tarzan and the Ant Men (1924); Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle (1927); Tarzan and the Lost Empire (1928); Tarzan at the Earth’s Core (1928); Tarzan the Invincible (1930); Tarzan Triumphant (1931); Tarzan and the City of Gold (1932); Tarzan and the Lion Man (1933); Tarzan and the Leopard Men (1933); Tarzan’s Quest (1935); Tarzan and the Forbidden City (1938); Tarzan and the Foreign Legion (1947);

Tarzan and the Madman (1964) published after Burrough’s death.

Tarzan: The Lost Adventure by Joe Lansdale (1995) a novel completed from notes left by ERB.