November 25, 2011

The Year Was 1907

The year was 1907 and in Belfast, Ireland, Protestant and Catholic dockworkers set aside their differences for a short time to unite in a four-month strike for better wages, better working conditions, and union recognition.

In Romania, a growing economy was making the rich richer, but peasants, who had very little representation in the government were still struggling and they revolted, destroying the homes and crops of the wealthy. The Romanian Army was called in and the revolt ended with the deaths of an estimated 10,000 peasants.

October brought with it the Panic of 1907 in New York. Rampant speculation and a faltering economy brought a "run" on several large trust companies with scared depositors withdrawing their funds. J.P. Morgan and several other leading Wall Street financiers were called in by President Theodore Roosevelt to turn things around. Working with the government, they put together a plan where $25 million dollars from the U.S. Treasury was invested in the neediest banks to prevent future runs on the institutions. Many financial historians attribute the creation of the Federal Reserve System in 1913 to the Panic of 1907.

On November 16, Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory joined together to become the 46th U.S. state. The state had grown with western expansion and demand for the rich lands led to six land runs between 1889 and 1895. That and the discovery of oil in the state helped boost the population to the necessary levels to achieve statehood.
There were several notable disasters, the worst of which was a plague in India. A plague pandemic had begun in Asia in 1894 and rats aboard steamships spread the disease around the world. In India the disease killed an estimated 13 million people.

Earlier that year, an earthquake ravaged the city of Kingston, Jamaica. Fires soon began that would burn for four days. The death toll from the earthquake was nearly 800 and the devastation was extensive. Most of the dead did not receive proper burials, but were cremated or buried in mass graves for fear of disease.

In 1907, the Lusitania, the largest steamship in the world, departed Queenstown, Ireland, on its maiden voyage to New York. On a later voyage in October, it would set a record by making the trip in four days, nineteen hours, and fifty-two minutes. In November it was eclipsed by its sister ship, the Mauretania, and in May 1915, the Lusitania was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the coast of Ireland and sank killing 1,198 people. Photos of the voyage can be found at Old-Picture.com.

Another innovation from that year came out of Hershey, Pennsylvania, in the form of the Hershey Kiss. The Hershey website theorizes that the name came from the "sound or motion of the chocolate being deposited during the manufacturing process."...

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