In 1913, Henry Lane Wilson, the US ambassador to Mexico, conspired with generals to
betray and murder President Madero: the first freely elected president of Mexico.
Wilson worried that Madero was too much of a "bleeding heart" and would
hurt the foreign businesses (especially the US) who owned 99 percent of the wealth
in the country. Wilson set up General Huerta and new cabinet members. Appeals were
sent to US President Taft from Madero's wife and the Texas legislature -- but no
response ever came. Huerta then sanctioned
the murder of Madero -- who was officially "shot while trying to escape".
In 1914, with war brewing in Germany, a mob of 500 St. Louis, Missouri residents tore the clothes
off of a German American, bound him with a US flag, and lynched him.
In 1915 President Wilson invaded Haiti, and in 1916 he invaded the Dominican Republic.
In these countries US troops murdered and destroyed., political systems
were dismantled, and brutal, corrupt dictatorships were left in their stead.
In 1917, Karl Muck, the German-born conductor of the Boston Symphony refused to
play the Star Spangled Banner. He was arrested and deported for this. It's
still not clear what law he had broken.
Between 1917 and 1918 three assaults on free speech were passed into law, culminating in
the Sedition Act. The government suppressed the free speech of dissenting groups such as
the American Socialist Party, Industrial Workers of the World, and pacifists.
In support of these violations of the Constitution, Attorney General Thomas Gregory
made the ironic and revealing statement:
"Free expression of opinion is dangerous to American institutions."
Mob violence against African Americans had been going on for a very long time in the US.
But 1919 witnessed some of the worst episodes of this particular madness.
That summer came to be called the "Red Summer" in reference to the blood that flowed in the streets. Attacks occurred in Tulsa, Oklahoma; small-towns in Texas; Charleston, South Carolina; Knoxville, Tennessee; Washington, D. C.; and Omaha, Nebraska. The worst riot hit Chicago -- it lasted for five days. Only intervention by the Illinois National Guard brought peace to the city.
In 1919 the League of Nations was formed. It was the precursor of the United Nations,
and like that organization, was created to encourage dialogue between nations and
help to prevent war. The United States refused to join.
In 1920 the New York legislature passed the Lusk bill. Similar to the McCarthyism
that would plague this country 30 years hence, the bill instituted secret
police who sought out citizens who were critical of the US. In the same year, the state
of Wisconsin passed the "Pure History" law, which required investigation
into any school textbook which "defames our nation's founders or misrepresents
the ideals and causes for which they struggled." In other words, what could
be taught about history was being mandated by the government. Children were more
likely to be taught the myth of George Washington cutting down the cherry tree, than
to learn about his being a self-confessed murderer or how he earned the name "Town Destroyer"
from the indigenous people.
But the most memorable thing about the year 1920 was that women in the United
States were, at long last, given the right to vote! Unfortunately, the
Equal Rights Amendment, first introduced in 1923, did not gain passage until
1977 -- and then failed to be ratified by the states.
In 1921 President Harding assigned responsibility for naval oil reserve lands
to the Department of the Interior. This act itself was later ruled illegal, but
the real scandal (which came to be known as the Teapot Dome Scandal) was how
the Secretary of the Interior, Albert Fall, subsequently handled his new
responsibility. In 1922 Fall secretly granted exclusive rights to the Teapot Dome reserve in
Wyoming to the Mammoth Oil Company, and other oil reserves to the Pan American Petroleum Company.
In exchange, Fall received cash and no-interest "loans" from the companies.
Subsequent investigations led to the conviction of Fall,
the first ever for an active cabinet member. The investigations also revealed
that Harding's administration was the most corrupt collection of
officials since the Grant administration. These officials of the US government
came to be called the "Ohio Gang" in light of their criminal activities.
In 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt appointed Breckinridge Long to the post of
Secretary of State. Breckinridge was an anti-Semite who opposed "excessive
humanitarianism" in regards to allowing Jews to immigrate from Germany.
This was during the darkest days of the Holocaust. 90 percent of the allowed
quota of visas were never granted during the war: effectively excluding the
refugee Jews from the US.
On September 11, 1940, the Jewish refugee ship Quanza stopped to refuel at
Norfolk, Virginia after having been denied entry into the United States. The
frantic and futile search for a safe haven from Nazi persecution led one German
Jew to dive overboard in a desperate swim for shore. He was captured by an
Army guard of the US and returned to the ship.
The vessel St. Louis, arriving off Miami and carrying nearly 1,000 escaped German
Jews, was likewise turned away. Most passengers on board these and similarly
refused Jewish refugee ships eventually were sent back to Germany and died in German
This period of history seems to conflict with the image of the US always offering a
safe haven to refugees (especially those fleeting religious persecution.)
In the wake of the Japanese bombing of the US naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii,
the US rounded up Japanese Americans living in the western United States. With
little warning they were forced to leave their homes, businesses, and most of
their belongings, and were imprisoned in concentrations camps. Conditions at the camps
were crude and harsh. Isolated, demeaned, and robbed of their rights, some
On August 6, 1945, the US dropped an atom bomb on the civilian city of Hiroshima,
Japan. 75,000 - 100,000 people died in the fireball and blast wave. US President
Truman responded to the news with: "This is the greatest thing in history!"
Three days later, the US dropped an atom bomb on the civilian city of Nagasaki, Japan.
It killed over 80,000 men, women, and children. Over the next five years nearly
half a million people slowly and painfully died from radiation poisoning caused
by the blasts.
Truman later said that dropping the atom bomb was "no great decision. It
was merely another powerful weapon in the arsenal of righteousness."
Five days after the Nagasaki bombing, the US sent one thousand war planes to bomb
what remained of major Japanese cities. It was an action designed to be
"as big a finale as possible," according to official Air Force history.
Thousands of civilians were killed, while amidst the bombs,
leaflets fluttered down proclaiming: "Your Government has surrendered.
The war is over."
In justification of the bombing of Japan, the US has held to the rationalization
that without it the war would've continued and an invasion of Japan would've
been necessary, which would've cost
the lives of more US soldiers than the Japanese lives that were lost in the bombings.
But this justification was suspect from the start. Already in 1946, the
United States Strategic Bombing Survey wrote:
Certainly prior to December 31, 1945, and in all probability prior to November
1, 1945, Japan would have surrendered, even if the atomic bombs had not been
dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had
been planned or contemplated.
A classified study in 1946 by the Military Intelligence Division of the War Department
(declassified in 1989) likewise concluded that Russia's entry into the war on
August 8, 1945 would "almost certainly" have driven the Japanese to surrender.
President Truman covered-up the fact that the Japanese emperor had been seeking
peace with the US since July of 1945.
German POW's were treated very brutally by the US. There is evidence that points to
their having been starved. The camps were in gross violation of international conventions, and so were kept
secret. The camps continued after the war was over (possibly into the middle of
1946), in clear violation of international law.
The prisoners were used for forced labor, and some were beaten and killed.
After WWII had ended, the US launched "Operation Paper Clip". The purpose
of this operation was to hire large numbers of known Nazi war criminals,
rocket scientists, camp guards, etc.
For example, Klaus Barbie, "the butcher of Lyon", was hired by US intelligence!
His job was to attack the left-wing resistance (just as he'd been doing for
When the US could no longer protect Barbie, he was sent
to the Vatican-run "ratline," which managed to smuggle him into Latin America.
There he went on to become a big drug lord, and was later involved in a military
coup in Bolivia -- all with US support.