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Project 1917 is a series of events that took place a hundred years ago as described by those involved. It is composed only of diaries, letters, memoirs, newspapers and other documents

Ten days in jail and a fine of $100 was meted out to William Payne, said to be the son of a wealthy shipbroker, of 245 West 160 Street, Manhattan, by Magistrate Handy in the Stapleton Police Court yesterday. The youth had been arraigned, charged with speeding thirty miles an hour in Tompkinsville. The officer who made the arrest produced records purporting to show that the youth had been arrested four times previously for the same offense.

ales peace meeting has broken up in riot. Over two hundred delegates from all parts of Wales, under the auspices of the Soldiers’ and Workers’ Council gathered today. But before proceedings started the hall was rushed and violent fights took place on the staircases and in the corridors. The attacking forces, which included a number of discharged soldiers and sailors, succeeded in taking possession of the hall and in holding a patriotic meeting. A crowd numbered 2,000 congregated outside the building while the delegates were assembling and most of these took part in the fray. Much damage was done to the furnishing of the hall and many windows were smashed by flying missiles. The peace delegates sought refuge in various corners, but were driven out.

 

To the beat of muffled drums 8,000 negro men, women and children marched down Fifth Avenue in New York in a parade of "silent protest against acts of discrimination and oppression" inflicted upon them in this country, and in other parts of the world. Without a shout or a cheer they made their cause known through many banners which they carried, calling attention to “Jim Crowism”, segregation, disfranchisement, and the riots of Waco, Memphis, and East St. Louis. Among the banners was one which immediately attracted the notice of the police. It displayed a picture of a negro woman kneeling before President Wilson, and appealing to him to bring democracy to America before carrying it to Europe. The police declared the banner to be objectionable, and the committee in charge of the parade readily withdraw it. Excepting this incident, the parade was in all respects one of the most quiet and orderly demonstrations ever witnessed in Fifth Avenue.

 

When the Russian women’s battalion, known officially as the “Command of Death”, went into action against the Germans near Smorgon, they captured a number of women from whom it was learned for the first time that German women also were fighting on the battlefront in Western Russia.

To the beat of muffled drums 8,000 negro men, women and children marched down Fifth Avenue in New York in a parade of "silent protest against acts of discrimination and oppression" inflicted upon them in this country, and in other parts of the world. Without a shout or a cheer they made their cause known through many banners which they carried, calling attention to “Jim Crowism”, segregation, disfranchisement, and the riots of Waco, Memphis, and East St. Louis. Among the banners was one which immediately attracted the notice of the police. It displayed a picture of a negro woman kneeling before President Wilson, and appealing to him to bring democracy to America before carrying it to Europe. The police declared the banner to be objectionable, and the committee in charge of the parade readily withdraw it. Excepting this incident, the parade was in all respects one of the most quiet and orderly demonstrations ever witnessed in Fifth Avenue.

The behavior of the Russian troops in Northern Galicia presents the picture of man in about his lowest degradation. Individual man can bring himself to the gutter by his vices, but that is a very different matter. Here an entire army either refused to obey of its officers to advance against the enemy, or deserted and fled before the enemy approached, leaving guns, ammunition, immense stores of material of war to fail into hands of the Germans, and shooting down comrades who attempted to check its flight. This is unsurpassable degradation, because these creatures had lost sense of shame; they yielded in a body to the solicitation of cowardice, the unpardonable sin for a soldier.  

 

Canadian Government proposals for an income tax were adopted by the House of Commons today. This is the first time such a tax has been applied to the whole Dominion.

Incomes of unmarried men above $2 000 and incomes of married men above $3 000 are taxed 4 per cent. In addition there is a provision for a supertax, applicable to both married and single of 2 per cent on incomes from $6 000 to $10 000; 5 per cent from $10 000 to $20 000; 8 per cent from $30 000 to $50 000; 15 per cent from $50 000 to $100 000, and 25 per cent from $100 000 upwards.

For corporations and joint stock companies the income tax is 4 per cent on incomes above $3 000. The supertax does not apply to them.

The tax will be collected on the incomes of the year 1917 and thereafter. The revenue is expected to reach $15 000 000 at least.

 

The Countess Sophie Panin, who recently was appointed Assistant Minister of Social Tutelage in the new Department of Public Welfare, has resigned her portfolio. The Countess, who is 45 years old and wealthy, has long been an active worker in the Constitutional Democratic Party in Russia. As the world’s first woman Minister she entered upon her duties as Assistant Minister of Social Tutelage dressed in workman’s blouse and a leather shirt. Her task embraced the administration of charitable and social institution and also the care of children. Prior to her appointment her palace had been transformed into a people’s house - a combination of place and popular university.

 

A crowd today caught two Leninites who had been firing from a housetop with machine gun and tore them to pieces. The women swear death to all Leninites and Germans.

“Worn in Germany” may be said of jewels which wealthy American women will wear in the near future. The Kaiserin is selling some of her jewels, principally gifts from persons now numbered among Germany’s enemies, it is said on good authority. The purchasers are not named but it is probable that they are jewelers who will have the gems reset or sold unset, with a possible market in America, which is a large receiver of the fine gems of the world. It is interesting to know that one of the most important diamond necklace presented to the Empress of Germany by the late J. Pierpont Morgan. It is composed of 375 stones of finest quality, large and small brilliants.

The dominant figure, politically, in Finland today, was closely identified for a number of years with the Socialist movement in this country. It is only during the last few days that cable dispatched from Russia have carried prominently the name of Oskar Tokoi. This man, who today is Vice President of the Finnish Senate - in effect, Prime Minister of Finland in transition - and certainly the foremost factor in the present movement for Finland’s independence, wielded pick and shovel, until a comparatively recent date, in a copper mine in Montana.

Tokoi has been called by persons who knew him in this country a typical working man, equipped with executive ability, a talent for organization and a saving sense of conservatism within Socialist lines of thought and action. He came to the United States shortly after the abortive revolutionary movement in Finland and the Baltic Provinces, which followed the war between Russia and Japan. It was a time when many of his countrymen emigrated, in passive resistance to the Russian decree drafting Finnas into the Russian Army, in defiance of Finland’s Constitutional rights. He settled first in Fitchburg, Mass., which in the centre of the Finnish Socialist propaganda in the East, and for a time was employed organizing cooperative branches for the party. Later he went West and took up mining. When he left the United States, to return to his native land, he was an officer of the Western Federation of Miners.

Berlin newspapers received a report that Eugene Azef, who eight years ago was the head of the Russian Fighting Socialists, is among the Russian civilians interned in Berlin.

Azef, in order to escape the vengeance of the revolutions, fled from Paris after Vladimir Bourtzeff, a Russian revolutionist, had charged him with being a police spy. He became a wanderer, traveling under various names. When the war broke out he was in Germany and was interned, according to the report.

Later he fell sick and was removed to a hospital, and finally appealed to the Russian Prisoners of War Committee for assistance.

Azef at the time the disclosures were made against him was reported to have played a double role of Russian Socialist and spy for the Russian secret police for eight years. He is said to have facilitated the arrest of hundreds of revolutionists, disclosed dozens of plots against high officials, and even to have been the organizer of assassinations. Among the high personages whom Bourtzeff charged met death were Grand Duke Sergius and M. von Plehve, Russian Minister of the Interior.

After the revelations of Bourtzeff it was asserted that Azef was being hunted by the revolutionists who had sworn vengeance on him. In 1910 Azef was reported to have been assassinated in Wiesbaden.

 

Russians who have taken out citizenship papers in the United States are still being considered as Russian citizens by the new Petrograd Government, unless they have obtained the consent of the Russian Government to their change of allegiance. The State Department has been informed that the Russian Provisional Government holds to the same principle upheld by the Government of the Empire, that it is necessary for a Russian to obtain the consent of his Government before he can discard his allegiance. At the same time, a diplomatic dispatch from Petrograd adds, it may be safe for American citizen of Russian birth to visit RUssia without running undue risks, as it is necessary for such persons to be denounced to the Russian authorities before action is taken against them, and it is considered unlikely that such denunciations will take place in the present circumstances.

 

Ukraine Splits Russian Cabinet

By Harold Williams

Cadet Ministers have just resigned from the Government in a body. The immediate occasion for their resignations was the Ukrainian question.

Ministers Tereschenko, Foreign Affairs, and Tseriteli, Post and Telegraphs, returned today from Kiev, whither they had been sent by the Government to investigate the situation without power to make a decision. They brought with them the draft of a declaration of Ukrainian autonomy in the form of an ultimatum which they demanded that the Government should sign without delay and without uttering a word.

There is a Ukrainian Parliament with a responsible General Secretariat or Government, which has complete executive power within Ukraine. No provision is made in the draft for guaranteeing the execution of orders of the Central Government and there are a number of omissions which in any case, in the opinion of the cadets, make the document unsuitable for publication as an act of a responsible Government.

Terestchenko and Tsereteli after hasty consultation with the Ukrainian leaders demanded of Prince Lvoff by telephone that this declaration should at once be published, as otherwise the consequences might be very grave. The cadets insisted that the Government’s hand should not be forced and that it was impossible to decide such a serious question of state by telephone. Prince Lvoff finally agreed that the Government should await the return of the delegation on order to insure adequate discussion.

On their return this morning Terestchenko and Tsereteli, who had been joined and supported in Kiev by Kerensky, repeated their demand and insisted on immediate publication of the declarations. A special meeting of the Cadet Central Committee was called in the afternoon to consider the situation. The opinion was very forcibly expressed that the Ministers could not, without breaking their oath, decree autonomy of Ukraine and so usurp the prerogatives of the Constituent Assembly.

It was argued that further continuance in the policy of concessions would simply compromise the integrity of all the Ministers concerned without in any way benefiting the country. Concessions to the Ukrainians would encourage the ambitions of other nationalities, and once Ukrainian autonomy were granted there would be no reason for refusing the immediate grant of a score of other autonomies, and the Constituent Assembly would be faced by a dismembered Russia, if, indeed, under such circumstances, it could ever be elected.

The Ukrainian question is of the highest importance. The leaders of the movement claim control of the population of the richest area of European Russia and the coast of the Black Sea. To grant the measure of autonomy claimed would mean splitting up the patrimony of the Russian people.

It was decided that if in the evening sitting of the Provisional Government the Ukrainian issue were forced the Cadet Ministers rather than accept responsibility for a declaration of Ukrainian autonomy should resign. The Cadets left the Government just before midnight. No choice was given. They were left in a minority of five in a vote on the unamended draft of the declaration. The crisis is serious and it is uncertain how it will develop.

For the present Prince Lvoff remains in office, but it is not clear whether an attempt will be made to find some other non-Socialist to take the places of the Cadets or whether the Council of Delegates will assume the task of forming the whole Government.

 

Harold Williams

To the Editor of The New York Times:

Few of your readers, I imagine, know anything about your special Petrograd correspondent, Harold Williams. And yet there is no one in Russia who writes with greater knowledge and, hence, with greater authority. He is a correspondent whose word can be absolutely trusted. Let me tell you something about him.

He was born in New Zealand about forty years ago. His father is a Wesleyan minister, and he himself, after a distinguished college career, was ordained to the same ministry. He was unable, however, to take any charge, owing to a sudden failure of his voice, and he turned about to prepare himself for the work of a teacher. With his natural disposition to thoroughness, he went to Germany and entered the University of Munich as a student for a doctor’s degree in the science of philology. He remained there two years, and received the highest degree the university could confer.

It was during his student life in Munich that I came to know him. As the rector of the American Church in Munich I had provided a reading room for all English-speaking students.

The fact that he had been ordained to the Christian ministry established at once sympathetic relations between us, and he became a frequent visitor at my house. Never have I come in close personal contact with a finer mind or a nobler spirit.

Just before his graduation he was offered a post in great American university. He came to me with the letter containing the offer and we talked it over. The post would give him an assured income and enable him to study and write at his leisure. “Just the thing you want,” I suggested. “Yes, it is just the thing I thought I wanted but I think I want something else now.” And then he told me he believed that journalism, intelligent, honest, fearless, offered the greatest opportunity for service.

And so this young man without money or influence turned his back upon a dignified academic profession, for which he was especially fitted, to take his chances in an unknown field; he was without any journalistic experience, and his doctor’s degree would be a little or no avail in such a venture. But venture he would, and venture he did.

I may say in passing that young Williams, while a student in Munich, had written a Filipino grammar, co-ordinating all the various dialects. He had mastered the German, Russian, and about a dozen other languages, and this marvelous linguistic knowledge gave him his chance.

In 1902 the correspondent of the London Times in Russia was expelled for reporting too truthfully one of the many organized persecutions of the Jews. He came to Munich on his way to London. I saw him, and he asked me if I knew any educated Englishman or American who knew Russian. I told him of Williams, and their meeting resulted in Williams becoming the Russian correspondent of The London Times. That is how he started in journalism. But he was not permitted to enter Russian territory, and his resourcefulness was brought to the test at once. In a short time he found that there was a Russian colony composed of the most intelligent exiles at Stuttgart. He soon established relations with this community, and finally took up his residence there. This put things Russian.

Six months after the ban was removed and he went to Petrograd, where he has since resided, but not always as the correspondent of The Times. He prefers a free pen, and has become an authority on life and character. His letters are published all over the world, in all languages, and no name carries greater weight or inspires greater confidence than Harold Williams. 

  1. Monroe Royce,

Rector, St. Thomas’s Church