United States and American History: 1916

About the history of the United States in 1916, Dewey and his progressive education, first Jewish Supreme Court justice, Pancho Villa attacks, ties between U.S. and Germany.


-John Dewey introduced the progressive educational theory that subject material should be tailored to fit the child's needs, and not vice versa.

Jan. 28 Louis Dembitz Brandeis was nominated to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. A Jew, his appointment was contested bitterly by some who felt that his "Oriental" mind could not function effectively in a legal system based on Occidental principles.

Mar. 9 Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, riding with 1,500 men, crossed the U.S. border to attack Columbus, N. Mex. He killed 9 civilians and 8 men from the nearby camp of the U.S. 13th cavalry. The troopers then engaged in a running fight with the Mexicans, killing 50 on the U.S. side of the border, and 70 more during a 15-mi. penetration into Mexico. The U.S. recognized that Venustiano Carranza, the Mexican President it had helped to gain power, would voice loud regrets about Villa's murderous raid, but would do nothing. Wilson therefore sent 6,000 soldiers, led by Brig. Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing, to capture and bring back this bandit for trial. Despite a 300-mi. search-which lacked air support-Pershing was unable to find Villa, who had split up his main forces and dispatched them, piecemeal, into the wild mountains of northern Mexico.

In June, a Mexican army column clashed with part of Pershing's detachment near Carrizal, claiming that his invasion represented a hostile act. They captured 23 U.S. soldiers. When the men, primarily black troopers, were set free at the International Bridge in El Paso, in July, they were greeted with blankets. These were needed to cover their embarrassment-and their nudity. The bandits had appropriated their uniforms. General Pershing was not ordered out of Mexico until February 5, 1917.

July 18 The Official Gazette, of London, published the names of 80 U.S. firms and individuals suspected of trading with Germany. This blacklisting, legal under Britain's trading-with-the-enemy act, prevented the firms from doing business with the neutral countries as well.

July 22 At a pro-war "preparedness parade" in San Francisco, a bomb exploded near a saloon wall on Steuart near Market St. Ten people were killed and 40 injured. Labor leader Thomas J. Mooney and shoe-worker Warren K. Billings were convicted of murder. Although the 2 key witnesses against them later admitted to having perjured themselves, Mooney and Billings stayed in jail until 1939 when they were pardoned by New Deal governor Culbert L. Olson of California.

Oct. 7 With cool German arrogance, the U-53, under command of Kapitan-Leutnant Hans Rose, entered Newport harbor, R.I., and calmly requested a berth assignment. After inviting U.S. officers to visit his ship, and carefully observing neutrality regulations while in port, Rose left. Once outside the 3-mi. limit, he again began to sink Allied shipping.

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