where were they then? (Alton Brooks Parker)

17 July 2008

William Jennings Bryan is famously an electoral loser, but he wasn’t always a loser. In 1904, Alton B. Parker was. Don’t know much about Alton B. Parker? Neither do I, but he won the Democratic presidential nomination in 1904 after having been (scroll down for the correct Parker) chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals. I don’t know anything about his merits as a candidate, but Wikipedia notes:

In author Irving Stone’s 1943 book, They Also Ran, about defeated presidential candidates, a chapter about Judge Parker mentioned that he is the only defeated presidential candidate in history never to have a biography written about him. Stone theorized that Parker would have been an effective president and the 1904 election was one of a few in American history in which voters had two first-rate candidates to choose from. Stone professed that Americans liked Roosevelt more because of his colorful style.

After the election Parker went back to being a lawyer, though it appears he was still referred to as “judge” – as was the style at the time. And in today’s 1908 New-York Tribune, he (or someone with the exact same name) makes a surprise appearance at the bottom of the front page:


Toston, Mont., July 16.–Judge Alton B. Parker, while visiting here yesterday, took part in a tragedy. The dead: One large and vociferous rattlesnake. The judge was riding a horse in the wake of a band of sheep at Riverside Ranch, when he took judicial cognizance of the reptile. The rattler waved its tail. His honor, not to be outdone, waived all technicalities, and by virtue of his authority and a large stone executed the defendant on the spot.


Tribune Thursday: fleet arrives at Honolulu harbor

17 July 2008

Top stories:

  1. An express train on the New York, New Hampshire, & Hartford Railroad derailed just past Greenwich station, leaving 1 dead and a dozen people injured.
  2. (a) Columbia University professor Darius Eatman, who did not know how to swim, drowned in a North Carolina pond after the boat he was on capsized. Eatman’s companions on the boat, who were able to swim, were unable to save him.
    (b) Unusually high pressure from firefighters’ hoses let the water used to put out a fire at Nos. 1, 3, and 5 Bond St. to cause more damage than the fire itself.
  3. A report from the Olympics in London
  4. Bad news for the Democratic presidential nominee:

    The Nebraska State Railway Employes Association, started in Nebraska as a movement against William J. Bryan and the principles for which he stands, has spread into other Western states, and already organizations are being formed in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Kansas and Colorado. Other states will be organized as fast as possible until all railroad employes in the Middle West have joined the organization.

  5. Taft has completed the first draft of his acceptance speech for the Republican presidential nomination. He plans to cut if from 10,000 to 3500 words by the time he delivers it in Cincinnati on July 28th.
  6. The Atlantic battleship fleet arrived in Honolulu yesterday.

Photo: Honolulu harbor

a nation of immigrants

17 July 2008

I’ve been wondering for some time if there’s a chance that if there’s a prolonged economic downturn, a significant number of Americans won’t just see their jobs moved overseas, they’ll begin to follow them. I’m sure it’s extremely unlikely: a significant depression in the US would almost certainly be accompanied by a more or less worldwide one. Anyway, it’s not like Americans left the country in huge numbers in the 1930s, and even if a depression were a push factor, there still would have to be some pull factors drawing people elsewhere.

That said, I found myself wondering about American emigration again when I read this:

Why does Germany have an engineering shortage while U.S. engineers are forced into “sales”? If our engineers didn’t go into sales, they’d be unemployed. It also puzzles me how, in 2008, German industry, with an ever higher euro, keeps outcompeting the U.S. in sales abroad. The Germans are actually looking for more than half a million skilled workers, including 100,000 engineers.

Of course unemployment in the US is still fairly low, sales can pay well enough, there are restrictions on Americans working in the EU, and Germany is attracting workers from other parts of the world who likely earn less than an American would ask for. So there are some pretty easy answers to the question: why aren’t American engineers trying for those jobs? And that’s before you get to the question of whether Americans are not inclined to emigrate, not even temporarily, with the intention of sending money back and eventually returning.**

*Though the article itself is actually on an entirely different topic from this post, by the way, namely: what effect will growing numbers of wealthy young wealth-managing liberals have on Democratic (and by extension, American,) politics?

**I know very little about American emigration history. I think quite a few Americans actually left for Canada in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when the American economy was growing rapidly (outside of panics/depressions). A chart in Eric‘s book indicates that the United States was second only to the British Isles as a source region for immigrants to Canada between 1891-1910 (figure 3.2, page 68). I wonder if that number includes immigrants to the United States who later went to Canada.