Century Film Project

Celebrating the movies our ancestors loved

Tag: President Yuan Shikai

March 1916

While the Battle of Verdun continues to grind on in Europe, American newspapers this month would be more focused on the nearby Mexican Revolution, which once again spills across the border and brings US intervention. The Century News this month focuses on these events and also some beginnings that will impact the future.

World War One: On March 24, the Channel ferry S.S. Sussex is torpedoed by a German submarine, with a loss of fifty lives. The US protests in strong terms, with President Woodrow Wilson threatening to end diplomatic relations with Germany. Although no Americans were lost in this attack, the US public is still highly inflamed from the previous year’s Lusitania sinking. The Kaiser comes to fear possible US intervention in the war, and in May will issue the “Sussex Pledge,” which dials back “Unrestricted Submarine Warfare” to placate American public opinion.

VillaUncleSamBerrymanCartoonMexican Revolution:

The Battle of Columbus (New Mexico) occurs on March 8-9, as revolutionary leader Pancho Villa leads a raiding force of about 500 men across the border, probably to secure food and supplies for his troops. He encounters a much stronger force than anticipated, and despite initial success due to surprise, his forces are beaten back. An estimated 90 Mexican soldiers are killed or wounded, to 8 US soldiers and 10 civilians.

Pancho Villa Expedition: In response to the above attacks, and to rumors of atrocities by Villa’s men against American citizens in the press, on March 14 President Woodrow Wilson orders a force of 12,000 men, later joined by additional forces under the command of General John J. Pershing, to pursue and capture Pancho Villa. Although the pursuit undeniably inconveniences the revolutionary cause, Villa is able to evade pursuit and continue his activities.

Pancho Villa

Pancho Villa

Politics: Yuan Shikai, who had claimed the throne of China in November, abdicates on March 22 and the ever-fragile Republic of China is restored.

Industry: The Bayerischen Motoren Werke (BMW) is founded on March 7 in Germany.

Society: J.R.R. Tolkien marries Edith Bratt on March 22.

Births: Actress Mercedes McCambridge (later in “Touch of Evil” and “All the King’s Men”), March 17; actor Sterling Hayden (who appeared in “The Killing” and “Dr. Strangelove,” both by Stanley Kubrick), March 26.

December 1915

Well, it’s time to wrap up the news of the year 1915. It’s been an exciting year, both in and out of the movie theater. The First World War extended far longer than anyone had foreseen and also began to affect areas outside of Europe. The sinking of the Lusitania brought the war to the US, even though the country would remain neutral for two more years. The Gallipoli campaign brought heavy casualties to Turkish and Australian forces. And even African colonies began to get swept up into the war. Meanwhile, a new lease on making feature-length films and a beginning of recognition for film as an art form transformed cinema in the United States, while Chaplin-mania swept the world. American movies were finally beginning to dominate international distribution channels, and “Hollywood” was becoming another word for the American film industry as more and more production moved West.

Burlesque on carmen

Here are some of the headlines for December

World War I: Military higher-ups on both sides work to prevent another “Christmas Truce,” seen as bad for morale and likely to encourage spying. Units that broke ranks and attempted to communicate with the enemy faced harsh discipline. Some individual units were made to conduct raids on Christmas day and artillery barrages were scheduled to keep men in their trenches along the front.

Industry: on December 12, the one millionth Ford automobile rolls off the assembly line. Cars will transform American culture at least as much as the movies.

Politics: Yuan Shikai, the President of the Republic of China, declares himself Emperor, filling the gap left by the abdication of Puyi, the “Last Emperor.” This attempt to reinstate monarchy in China lasts only a few months, and is succeeded by years of internal warfare and instability.

First female President of the US? Edith Wilson nee Galt

First female President of the US? Edith Wilson nee Galt

Romance: on December 18, President Woodrow Wilson marries Edith B. Galt. The new Mrs. Wilson will become an important factor in American politics as the President’s health declines, becoming de facto head of the executive branch of government after he suffers a crippling stroke in 1919.

Shipping: HMHS Britannic, which shares design features with the Titanic, is launched December 23 as a hospital ship for the British Navy. Although it too sinks, after colliding with an underwater mine in 1916, nearly all crew and passengers will be saved due to improved safety features.

Revolts: The Military Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood formalizes its decision in favor of an “Easter Rising” for Easter weekend, 1916. This has been planned since the beginning of the war, and members of the council have met with German representatives to seek German assistance against British Rule.

Film News:

Cheat_FilmPosterDecember 13, release of “The Cheat” by Cecil B. DeMille.

December 18, release of “Burlesque on Carmen” (in edited form), starring Charlie Chaplin.

December 30, release of “The Golden Chance” by Cecil B. DeMille.


Frank Sinatra, Dec 12. Singer and star of movies such as “The Man with the Golden Arm” and “Oceans 11.”

Curd Jürgens, Dec 13. Actor, appeared in “The Devil’s General” and “The Longest Day,” in both of which he played German generals during the Third Reich.

Dan Dailey, Dec 14. Actor, appeared in “The Mortal Storm” and “When My Baby Smiles at Me,” for which he won an Oscar.

May, 1914

Africans exhibited at the 1914 Jubilee Exhibition in Christiania (Oslo), Norway. Image from Oslo Museum,  licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Norway license.

Africans exhibited at the 1914 Jubilee Exhibition in Christiania (Oslo), Norway. Image from Oslo Museum, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Norway license.

Here’s a roundup of what took place during the month of May in 1914.

Politics: On May 1, President Yuan Shikai replaces China’s constitution with a new “consitutional compact,” giving himself dictatorial powers. He justifies this by pointing to the many corruptions and inefficiencies of democratic government in China.

Spectacle: In honor of the centenary of their Constitution, Norwegians hold a “Jubilee Exhibition” in Kristiana, opening on May 5. One of its major features is a “Kongo Village” in which native Africans could be seen. This was not the first time Africans had visited Norway, but it was a very rare opportunity for everyday Norwegians to encounter them in person and see their “exotic” lifestyle.

Women: On May 6th, the British House of Lords rejects Women’s Suffrage

Holidays: On May 14, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation making Mother’s Day officially a national holiday.

Diplomacy: On May 17, the Protocol of Corfu was signed by the Albanian Government and the Provisional Government of Northern Epirus. This is another effort (see previous months) to stabilize the situation in Southeastern Europe subsequent to the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913, which had created various tensions between regional governments and minority populations. In this case, many Greeks living in Northern Epirus had rebelled against Albanian rule, leading to an agreement to limited autonomy, ratified in this document, which was never fully implemented, due to the outbreak of World War One later in 1914.

Business: On May 21, failed car salesman Carl Erick Wickman begins using his show car to transport workers in Hibbing, Minnesota to and from mines for 15 cents a ride. This is the birth of Greyhound Bus Lines.

Disasters: The ocean liner “Empress of Ireland” collides with the Norwegian vessal “SS Storstad” in the early hours of May 29 in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, leading to a loss of more than 1000 lives.

Opera: The opera Mârouf, savetier du Caire (Marouf, Cobbler of Cairo) by Henri Ribaud opens May 15 in Paris. This will be Ribaud’s most popular opera, based on a tale from The Arabian Nights and using “oriental” themes in the music.

Movies: The release of “The Master Mind” is May 11, and “Mr. Barnes of New York” is also in May, 1914.

Births: Tyrone Power, who would star in “The Mark of Zorro” and “The Black Swan” is born on May 5, and Lilli Palmer, later to appear in “Mädchen in Uniform” and “Body and Soul,” born on May 21.