Brooklyn Boro

April 17: ON THIS DAY in 1917, presence of enemy submarines in American waters

April 17, 2019 Brooklyn Eagle

ON THIS DAY IN 1917, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported, “Washington, April 17 – A German submarine today fired on the destroyer Smith about 100 miles south of New York, somewhere off the Jersey coast. The presence of enemy submarines in American waters indicates that the threatened German submarine blockade of American Atlantic ports has begun. This announcement was made at the Navy Department: ‘Reported from Fire Island Lightship to the naval stations at Boston and New York at 8:30 a.m. on the 17th, an enemy submarine was sighted by the U.S.S. Smith, running apparently submerged. The submarine fired a torpedo at the U.S.S. Smith, which missed her by thirty yards. The wake of the torpedo was plainly seen crossing the bow. Submarine disappeared.’ … The attack by the U-boat is Germany’s first recognition of the state of war declared by the United States.”

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ON THIS DAY IN 1939, the Eagle reported, “Washington, April 17 (AP) – Twentieth century accoutrements are lending a bizarre touch to the duplication of George Washington’s inaugural journey from Mount Vernon to New York 150 years ago. It was raining yesterday when Denys Wortman, New York cartoonist, who resembles the first president, left Mount Vernon in an authentic eighteenth century carriage. As a result he and his entourage hastily donned rubber raincoats over their Colonial attire. And the coachman smoked one cigarette after another. Wortman was welcomed here by District Commissioner [Melvin] Hazen, impeccably clad in a modern morning suit, wing collar and derby. The party will remain here until tomorrow. The trip will end – you guessed it – at the New York World’s Fair.”

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ON THIS DAY IN 1940, the Eagle reported, “They smiled politely back in 1908 when Sarah Stephenson was proposed for membership in the Brooklyn Bar Association. Sarah Stephenson shrugged and smiled with them. In fact she was known through the years to laugh when the subject came up and she even drew a chuckle now and then from some of the staid male lawyers around town who couldn’t help joining in the fun she made even though they thought woman’s place was not in the Brooklyn Bar Association. Well, today it’s all over. Sarah Stephenson, after 32 years, has become a member of the Brooklyn Bar Association … She was the first woman in Brooklyn to open her own law office. She spent 18 years at 16 Court St. until the building was torn down to make way for a skyscraper. Then she moved to 44 Court St., where she spent 11 months before moving on to her present office at 50 Court St. The American Bar Association saw fit to admit her as a member in 1919. The New York State Bar Association had taken her in a few years earlier … At last, on March 14, the Brooklyn Bar Association let down its barriers and voted to admit women to membership.”

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ON THIS DAY IN 1949, the Eagle reported, “Dublin, April 16 (U.P.) – At one minute after midnight tomorrow, guns will roar in Dublin as they did in the bloody Easter Monday rebellion 33 years ago, but this time they will peacefully proclaim the birth of the independent Republic of Ireland. Monday, anniversary of the 1916 uprising against the British, will be Republic Day. Ireland, under the Republic of Ireland Act passed by parliament in December, will cut its last ties to the British Crown. The celebration, which will spread across 26 counties of Southern Ireland, will begin with 21-gun salutes in Dublin, Cork and the town of Athlone. The six counties of Northern Ireland will not participate in the festivities. In recent elections they voted to remain partitioned from the Republic and retain allegiance to the British Commonwealth. But one famous veteran of the 1916 revolt will not participate. Former Prime Minister Eamon de Valera has accused the government of Prime Minister John Costello of ‘political trickery’ in establishing a republic while the partition of North and South Ireland continues.”

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