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1903

Jan 1  Edward VII, Britain's monarch, is proclaimed Emperor of India. His mother, Queen Victoria, was Empress of India.

Jan 17  A German ship, Panther, involved in blockading Venezuela, gets aggressive and enters the lagoon of Maracaibo, near a center of German commercial activity. The ship exchanges fire with a fort but because of shallow waters can't get close enough to the fort to be effective. It withdraws.

Feb 11  In California growers have combined into the Western Agricultural Contracting Company (WACC). Japanese and Mexican beet-field laborers combine into the Japanese-Mexican Labor Association (JMLA) and accuse WACC of artificially suppressing wages. JMLA complains that WACC forces workers to pay double commissions and to buy at inflated prices at the company store.

Feb 13  With arbitration by Britain, Germany and Italy reach a settlement with Venezuela. Venezuela agrees to pay a reduced amount of its debt. The naval blockade will end in six days.

Feb 23  The Cuban-American Treaty is signed. It provides for Guantánamo Bay to be leased to the United States "in perpetuity."

Mar 23  In Oxnard, California, a strike by the Japanese-Mexican Labor Association ends after growers shoot into a crowd of strikers. One worker is killed and four injured. The growers will concede to most JMLA demands.

May 13  Samuel Gompers, founder of the American Federation of Labor, states that his union "will under no circumstance accept membership of any Chinese or Japanese." Denied membership in the American Federation of Labor, the Japanese-Mexican Labor Association will not survive. By 1910 it will have disappeared.

Jun 11  Serbia's King Alexander Obrenovic and his wife, Queen Draga, are assassinated by army officers led by Dragutin Dimitrijevic. An issue in the assassinations appears to be who would be the king's successor. Dimitrijevic will be described as in the pay of Russians (Fall of the Eagles, by C. L. Sulzberger, p.202). Dimitrijevic will be a player in future Serb crises. Obrenovic is succeeded by his younger brother, Peter I, Serbia's first strictly constitutional monarch.

Jul 7  Britain expands its rule in Africa by taking over the Fulani Empire, a Muslim theocracy in the Western Sudan.

Jul 26  A couple of young men arrive in New York city after a sixty-three day drive from San Francisco. They drove a two-cylinder, 20 horsepower Winton. They popped many tires on what can hardly be called roads. Wheel bearings gave out and a couple of times they had to wait for parts to repair engine breakdowns. The trip is to be the subject of an October 2013 film by Ken Burns.

Aug 4  Pope Pius X becomes the 257th pope, succeeding Leo XIII.

Aug 18  England's conservatives, opposed to autonomy for the Irish, pass a land reform law for Ireland, hoping this will delay or prevent the Irish acquiring anything like independence.

Sep 29  The Kingdom of Prussia (two-thirds of the Empire of Germany), becomes the first state to require drivers licenses for operators of motor vehicles.

Oct 3  Russia has failed to withdraw its forces from Manchuria as they had promised. For a couple of months Russia and Japan have been haggling over who is to have dominant influence where in the Manchuria-Korean area between their two countries. The haggling is to continue.

Nov 17  Russia's Social Democrats are having their Second Congress. (The First Party Congress was in 1898, consisting of nine delegates, all of whom were arrested.) The Second Congress meets in Brussels, but police harrassment sends them to liberal Britain's city of London. There are fifty-six delegates. They split into two factions: the Bolsheviks (majority) and Mensheviks (minority). The Bolsheviks believe that power must be taken from the ruling class in one sweep. The Mensheviks hope for progress toward socialism without a sudden and sweeping change as to which class holds power. The Bolsheviks are a majority when a crucial vote is taken after some Mensheviks walk out.

Nov 18  The Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty is signed by the United States and Panama, giving the US exclusive rights over the Panama Canal Zone.

Nov 23  Bill Haywood's Western Federation of Miners has called for a sympathy strike among the underground miners to support an eight-hour day. The governor, James Hamilton Peabody, has described an insurrection as taking place and has sent out a militia to protect replacement workers. Soldiers have been rounding up union members and their sympathizers, including the entire staff of a pro-union newspaper, and jailing them without charges.

Dec 9  Imprisoned since April 1902, in August this year Stalin was transferred to Siberia. On this day he arrives at his assigned area in south-central Siberia: Novaya Uda. The Russian Empire will provide him with a little cash to survive – cheaper perhaps than having to house him in an actual prison.

Dec 17  At Kitty Hawk in North Carolina the Wright brothers make their first engine powered air flight.

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