”You ladies must know that this is
goin’ a bit too far! Why do you keep botherin’ the President? Don’t you know he
has got enough to think about with the Peace Conference and fixin’ up the whole
world on his mind?“
1919, New York City,
sailors and soldiers shaming the women suffragists who
attempted to walk toward the Opera House, where President Wilson
was giving a speech – Jailed for Freedom by Doris Stevens,
American suffragist, woman’s legal rights advocate and author. Between 1917 and
1919, Doris Stevens was a prominent participant in the Silent
Photo: American suffragist being shamed by a crowd of
men and arrested by the police for picketing at the White
‘At 4:15 on the afternoon
of the never-to-be-forgotten day*, the good ship Verdi slowly pulled out
of the Marseille harbor while the band played the national air of France and the national air
of America. The S. S. Verdi steamed through the straights, out onto the
broad Atlantic, while the shore line of the Old World
grew dim and hazy in the distance.
And so the story ends. The war clouds have cleared from the
sky; the sun shines down on the blue Atlantic while the ship speeds westward,
with her cargo of A. E. F. Boys, bound for America and Home.’
‘I fought my way through the mass of people
up to the corner of 115th Street and
Lenox, right where I wrote Coleman I’d be. I turned up the block toward Seventh
Avenue, searching and anxious. Perhaps I’d missed
him. Just then, a pair of arms wrapped around
my waist… Gently,
he turned me around to face him. My boy, I thought. But they’d taken away
the boy and left this person standing in front of
me whose hands seemed as wide and as rough as the ocean he’d just crossed. Glowing with cold, he stared into my eyes
like he’d never seen me before.
May,” he said. His voice
was husky, velvety along edges that had been so sharp when he left.
I loved him already.’
1919, New York City, American lady welcoming her boyfriend, a soldier returning home from war – Angel of Harlem, a book based on the
extraordinary life of Dr. May Chinn, New York’s first black female doctor. Photo: 1919, American soldier returning
home and kissing his lady. Carnegie Museum of Art
lot of us boys in the AEF had a sayin’, when we were comin’ into New York
harbor, looking at the Statue of Liberty, we’d look a long time, then we’d say
to the statue: “Take a good look at me, Old Girl, because if you ever want to see me again, you’ll
have to turn around!”
The statue and the American dream – Photo: December 28 1918, taken by
American ambulance driver Harvey Ladew Williams who served in France
& Italy during WW1 – The Harvey Ladew Williams II Papers, 1917-1918.
Note: from France, waiting for the boat that
would bring him home, Harvey wrote to his
mom: “We are waiting patiently for the
boat to get ready to leave, but the uncertainty of it all makes it rather
provoking… Hoping I’ll be with you all for New Year’s.” And he was, as this photo shows.
A group of “slackers” rounded up by the American Protective League, pictured on September 4.
September 3 1918, New York–The institution of the draft in the United States was not resisted on any large, organized scale; the first Registration Day in June 1917 largely went off without a hitch. However, silently, nearly 3 million men of draft age simply failed to register, while over 300,000 who registered and were called up failed to report (or quickly deserted)–a higher rate of draft-dodging than during the Vietnam War. The Justice Department did not have the resources to track down these “slackers,” and accepted the services of the volunteer American Protective League. The APL’s largest and most controversial operation started in New York on September 3.
Along with police and off-duty military, the APL stopped nearly half a million men over the course of three days. During intermission of the hit play “Yip, Yip, Yaphank” (composed by Irving Berlin while in training at Camp Upton in Yaphank, Long Island), twenty-five sailors entered the orchestra and announced that every man between the ages of 21 and 31 must stand up and show their draft card. Eventually, the sailors were convinced to wait until the end of the performance, when they stopped every man exiting the theater and detained a few who did not have their cards on their person.
The press was largely supportive of the campaign; The New York Times was apparently cheerful that 40,000 “slackers” had been rounded up by the APL. Ultimately, however, just 199 of the detainees were found to have deliberately evaded the draft; the vast majority had just neglected to carry their draft cards that day. Wilson was pleased at the results, telling a member of his cabinet that it had “put of the fear of God in others.” It provoked an outrage in the Senate, however; progressive Hiram Johnson of California calling it a “Reign of Terror.” The APL soon lost the official sanction of the Justice Department and was dissolved.